KAFUE NATIONAL PARK
Kafue is located in the centre of western Zambia, Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest of Zambia’s national parks and covers a massive 22,400 km2 (about the size of Wales or Massachusetts). First established as a wildlife area in 1924, and then as a National Park in the 1950’s by the legendary Norman Carr, the Kafue is one of the largest national parks in the whole of Africa. Despite its size and prominent location, it remains little-known and largely unexplored with vast tracts of its virgin bush still untouched. Thanks to its size and variety of habitat types the Kafue holds a fantastic diversity of wildlife. However, the park is not about the sheer numbers of wildlife visible, it is about the diversity of wildlife you can encounter. This is not to say the Kafue does not have healthy populations of many of the more charismatic species of animals, because it does, but if you are looking for the ‘Big 5 in 24 hours’ experience then you will miss the point of this national park.
The Kafue is home to more species of ungulate than any national park south of the Congo Basin. Rare and elusive antelope such as the blue and yellow-backed duiker occur in the thickets, sitatunga and lechwe in the swamps, roan, sable and hartebeest in the miombo woodlands, the list goes on. The open and seasonally flooded Busanga Plains area in the north-west has excellent game viewing density, especially buffalo, antelope, and attendant predators. The southern and central eastern sections, along the river, have more forest areas and open areas of grassland called “dambos” locally, and boat safaris are a highlight here, as well as vehicle and walking safaris. The Kafue River and its tributaries themselves are a hive of activity and home to pods of hippo and some of the largest crocodiles in southern Africa. As the bush dries out in the summer it is not uncommon to watch elephant frolicking in the water and swimming from bank to bank, with their trunks holding on to the tails of the individuals in front.
A rarity for Zambia is the cheetah. Cheetah cannot be found in the Luangwa or Zambezi national parks and only occur in the west of Zambia, with Liuwa Plains and the Kafue holding the last viable populations of this rare and charismatic predator. In the Kafue cheetah are not solely restricted to the plains, in fact they do very well in mixed woodland and riverine areas, where they can be found preying on puku and impala, amongst others. Cheetah are found throughout the Kafue, from Nanzhila in the south to the Busanga in the north.
The African wild dog (a.k.a Painted dog, Cape hunting dog) is a highly sought after species for wildlife tourists; these exceptionally rare and elusive predators are not easy to find, however the Kafue has what some might say the largest population of this species compared to any other national park in Africa. Packs can be found on both sides of the Kafue River and in almost all habitat types, from dense woodland to riverine and dambo areas. This species has started to receive much needed and warranted interest in the Kafue from various conservation organizations, as such in 2011 the Zambian Carnivore Programme began baseline studies of wild dog in the Kafue and look set to continue its good work for the foreseeable future.
You are unlikely to encounter many, if any, vehicles from other lodges, the lodge concession areas being large and visitor numbers low. Given the diverse nature of the landscapes and the size of Kafue, whilst you could pick one of the areas for a three-night stay in combination with a longer stay in South Luangwa, to fully appreciate Kafue, one could spend six nights in two camps or even eight or nine nights in three camps.
Your best way to get to/from Kafue National Park is by light aircraft from Lusaka. Flights cost between USD 250 - USD 300 per person one/way. Some lodges, which are located more towards the centre of the park can also be reached by a 3 - 5 hour road transfer. The roads however are usually not in the best condition, so this option is more for the adventurous and budget-conscious traveller.
Please click on one of the below links to view our range of sample itineraries for Kafue national Park. Itinerary combinations including Kafue and either South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi or Livingstone area work very well and you can find some Zambia combination itinerary ideas by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page. For bespoke itineraries please contact us directly to discuss your project.